Speaking at a meeting of state attorneys general, Sessions said, “We need, so far as we can, to help police departments get better, not diminish their effectiveness. And I’m afraid we’ve done some of that.”
According to NBC, the DOJ was enforcing 19 agreements with police departments at the end of 2016. More than two dozen investigations were carried out under the Obama administration into police departments and sheriff’s offices accused of violating the Constitution and federal civil rights laws.
Last month, the DOJ concluded a 13-month investigation into the Chicago Police Department, finding rampant excessive force chiefly aimed at the city’s minorities. A chilling report released days before Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration, described systemic rights violations, both violent and egregious, carried out under the noses of approving police supervisors; in one of many highlighted incidents, police are said to have used a Taser on naked, 65-year-old woman with a mental illness.
The report also found that Chicago police routinely used their firearms and vehicles, against department regulations, in ways that “endanger themselves and public safety.”
“We need to return to the ideas that got us here, the ideas that reduce crime and stay on it,” Sessions said Tuesday. “Maybe we got a bit overconfident when we’ve seen the crime rate decline so steadily for so long.”
Earlier this month, Trump falsely claimed that the crime rate in the United States was now higher than it has been in “45 to 47 years,” a fake statistic that he was repeatedly excoriated for using on the campaign trail.
According to the FBI’s latest annual report, 2015 saw the highest crime rate in six years. “While that was an increase from 2014 figures, the 2015 violent crime total was 0.7 percent lower than the 2011 level and 16.5 percent below the 2006 level,” the FBI says.